Gospel Preaching 34

I Corinthians 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

He should also open his mouth vigorously and confidently, to preach the truth that has been entrusted to him. He should not be silent or mumble but should testify without being frightened or bashful. He should speak out candidly without regarding or sparing anyone, let it strike whomever and whatever it will. It is a great hindrance to a preacher if he looks around and worries about what people like or do not like to hear, or what might make him unpopular or bring harm or danger upon him. (Martin Luther)

The Gospel is the good news of what God has done in Christ to glorify Himself in the salvation of sinners. It is a message to helpless sinners, dead sinners, and sinners who are unable to contribute to their own salvation. It is a message to those who have absolutely no ability to help themselves. This is to say that the Gospel is good news to those who are poor in spirit or who have come to the point of seeing themselves as desperate sinners who have absolutely zero hope in self and so can only look to grace alone. In other words, the Gospel can only be apprehended or appreciated by those who are so lost that they know they cannot help themselves. This requires bold preaching and a preaching that is not concerned about hurting the feelings of men and is not concerned about gaining honor among men.

The one who is preaching the Gospel must also preach the doctrines that correspond to the Gospel. For example, it is good news that God raises the dead, but if sinners don’t see themselves as dead they don’t really think of God raising the dead as good news. This means that Gospel preaching must include preaching about men being dead in their sins and trespasses so that the preaching of the Gospel of God can be understood and seen as good news. This means that Gospel preaching must include preaching about how men are not only sinners, but that they are sinners by nature. When men see that they are sinners by nature, they will understand that they need a new heart. So Gospel preaching declares to men that they are dead in sins and that by nature so that the glorious teaching of the new birth will be welcomed and sought. This takes boldness to preach and a desire to please God in the preaching rather than men.

Gospel preaching must never stress anything positive or Divine happening to the sinner apart from that happening by grace alone. The sinner must never look to himself or any other human being for help as the only help can come from above. The sinner must know that he can never do one thing good and as such he can never put God into his obligation. The sinner will only be saved if God is pleased to show grace to the sinner. Once again, in order to preach this and stress this with application to the hearts of sinners requires that the preacher be a man who speaks for God and not for the glory and honor that comes from man. A man cannot preach these things with earnestness and apply them to the hearts of men unless that man preaches for the glory of God in the salvation of sinners.

It is one thing to give a lecture on how the Gospel is by grace alone, but it is quite another thing to preach in such a way that sinners begin to see their own absolute need to be saved by grace alone. It is quite another thing as well to preach in a way where men can see that their only hope is in the grace of God and not almost all grace and a little something from them. A man can have a doctrine, philosophy, or a theory that states grace alone; but the practice of that man can be quite inconsistent with his theory. In our day it is not terribly unpopular in some circles to say that you stand for the doctrines of grace, but actually preaching the doctrines of grace with the doctrines that show how grace alone can save sinners is not as popular.

One can stay popular or at least in positions of power in denominations as long as you allow that there is room for differences, but one cannot remain popular in those denominations if one stands for grace alone and stands as well for there being no room for differences at this point. Gospel preaching cannot be popular unless God sends His Spirit to bring large numbers of people to a brokenness of heart to where they will not put up with anything but grace alone and the doctrines which go along with that. Gospel preaching is a proclamation of the glory of God in saving sinners, but sinners who are dead in sin and are sinners by nature and act. All the power and glory are His. Sinners, however, want some control and until their hearts are broken and crushed they will fight for the smallest amount of power left to them and some control. They will never honor a man who goes after the refuges that they have in their hearts so as to drive them out and leave them nothing but grace alone to hold to.

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